I wanted to share 4 ways that I have found by my experience to be a good caregiver. I have touched on the fact that my husband Clayton has a neurological disorder in a previous post (you can read that here). He has been dealing with his chronic illness for over 6 years now. Clayton was running a very successful computer consulting business and was a published author of computer programming books when he had a couple of concussions back-to-back that have led us to this point. He has a lot of problems that vary for him day-to-day like migraine headaches, gastroparesis, trigeminal neuralgia (TN), losing feeling in his legs and arms and many more. Scary how life can change so quickly!
About a week ago, my husband had some dental work done (what would usually be a simple filling for most people), which he had been putting off for fear that it could trigger his TN. He was right to be concerned, as this did cause him to suffer with SEVERE pain since then, as it seems his TN has flared up. UGH!!! It has brought up a lot of emotional feelings for me, as I hate to see him in pain and uncomfortable! I have found my time to have a little crying moment and then I go back to being strong for my sweetie. He is person that has a high tolerance for pain, but this has been very hard for him to deal with. I thought that sitting at my computer and jotting down my thoughts on how I feel being a good caregiver for him, may help others to do the same.
My 4 ways to be a good caregiver
1. Be Supportive
My husband, son and I are very close. My son has been home schooled, and we are all together 24/7, which works GREAT for us. We all have the same interests and enjoy each other’s company. I can’t even begin to know how my husband feels or what he is going through, but I can be here to support him and help him get through his struggles. He and I are the very best of friends, so being supportive, is very easy for me! I love him and want to help him. I go to every doctor visit with him and make and keep track of those appointments. I enjoy baking, cooking and cleaning (OK – maybe not the cleaning part!), and that helps to be supportive and keep my family as healthy as I can. I mentioned my son Clayton III earlier in this paragraph, and I just want to say that he is a wonderful and understanding person. My husband always thanks us for being there for him, and we always say that we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, but with him!!! He’s the best!
2. Be Flexible
It is very hard to have a schedule and make plans when you have someone in your family that is dealing with chronic health issues. I have found that we do not make many major plans, outside of his doctor appointments, of course. If we do have thoughts of, for instance, going to see a movie together as a family, we always know that the plans may change because of how my hubby might be feeling. We have even left the house to do something fun together and had to turn around. We just have to be flexible! I have learned to just go with the flow – a little bit more than I used to. I think the fact that I am a mom has helped me with that. When my son was young, there were many times that I had to switch gears of doing something that I wanted or needed to do, to be attentive to him.
3. Be a Good Listener
I will literally drop everything when my husband needs to talk about how he is feeling. Just being here for him and listening to him talk about treatment options, what he has learned in his research, etc. is what I can do to help him. I do wish there was more that I could do for him. Holding his hand, going for a walk – whatever he needs – I am here.
4. Be Mindful of Your Self-Care
I have been reading so much about self-care lately, and everyone has different needs and ways to help them feel better. I have found that exercise is helping me, and I love taking a nice hot shower when I feel yucky. I also didn’t realize how much I just dove into my blogging over these 5+ years. My thoughts of how my husband is feeling never leaves my mind, but blogging does keep my mind active and focused on something else for a little bit. I have found a better balance between working on my blogs and my other daily activities, and that makes me feel better. Whatever you find that works for you, you should be sure to do that. Taking time to take care of yourself is so imperative!
In conclusion, no one knows what path our lives will take and this has really changed our life in so many ways. But, it has only made our family relationship even stronger! That is the positive from all of this. Clayton has good days and bad days. When he is having a good day, we get out and enjoy life. When he isn’t feeling well, we all hang out at home together. Enjoy every moment with your loved ones. Give them lots of hugs and kisses and don’t take any time with them for granted.
I hope some of these tips may help others going through a similar situation, and I would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading! 🙂